TEHRAN (FNA)- Turkish warplanes launched intensive bombing raids on Kurdish targets in northern Iraq overnight but there were no reports of any casualties, a Kurdish spokesman said on Friday.
The air strikes started at 11.30 p.m. and lasted for three hours, targeting bases belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an off-shoot of the PKK staging terrorist attacks on Iran. “There has been heavy bombing and many Turkish planes were involved. So far, we have no word of any casualties,” PKK spokesman Ahmed Danees told Reuters.
Turkish state news agency Anatolia had earlier reported that air strikes started just before midnight and continued into Friday. Military sources told Reuters that at least 30 planes were involved in the raids, which they said targeted senior PKK members in Iraq’s remote Qandil mountains.
Meanwhile, Iran said it aims to help end fighting in Iraq by talking to an Iraqi delegation visiting Tehran.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has sent the delegation to ask Tehran to strengthen its positive role in soothing clashes in Iraq.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said that the Iraqi delegation is in Tehran at the invitation of Iranian officials.
“Tehran has generally emphasized stability and security in Iraq and the invitation to the Iraqi delegation has been for this goal, and Iran’s past measures have been to bring stability and security in Iraq,” Hosseini was quoted by the Islamic republic news agency as saying late on Thursday.
Hosseini said that the visit was aimed at discussing the latest developments in Iraq and “settling ongoing differences and clashes in Iraq”.
Last month Iran mediated a truce between Iraqi governmental troops and followers of the young cleric Moqtada Sadr in southern Iraq after weeks of bloodshed between the two parties.
“Iranian officials will be holding talks with the delegation with a view to help resolve the differences and clashes in Iraq,” Hosseini was quoted by the Islamic republic news agency as saying late on Thursday.
The spokesman added that the visit of the Iraqi delegation was in line with Tehran’s policy to restore stability and security in Iraq.
The delegation from Maliki’s ruling United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) left for Tehran on Wednesday.
Maliki visited Tehran in August when Iranian officials said Tehran was making a “special effort” to help provide security.
Analysts say Tehran wants to help keep a friendly government in charge and that Iran wants a stable Iraq, after its neighbor imposed an 8-year-long bloody war on Iran in the 1980s.
While blaming the presence of alien troops as the main problem in Iraq, Hosseini said Iran will continue using all its capacity to help the Iraqi government and nation.
Iran has several times categorically rejected US charges of intervening in Iraqi affairs, especially for Shiites in southern Iraq and stressed that the country would regard Iraqi security like its own.
Iran and the United States are embroiled in a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program, which the US-led West claims is a disguised attempt to build atomic bombs, although Western countries have never presented corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations against the Islamic Republic. Iran has vehemently denied West’s claims, reiterating that its plans are peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.
The US is actually at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.
Washington’s military threats against Tehran and its push for additional UN penalties contradicted the recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seemed to be completely irrational.
The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.
Tehran says it wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.
Yet, Washington officials have several times threatened to launch an attack on the Islamic Republic.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, in a speech late Thursday, said Iran’s “enemies” – a clear reference to the United States – would not dare attack but said Iran’s military should be prepared nonetheless.
“Everybody knows the enemies of the Iranian nation do not have the courage and impudence to attack this great and historic nation since they would be entering an arena from which departure would not be possible. Despite that, the armed forces should become readier and more powerful every day,” he said.